Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What is Dennis J. Frost reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Dennis J. Frost, author of Seeing Stars: Sports Celebrity, Identity, and Body Culture in Modern Japan.

His entry begins:
During the school year much of what I read is related to the courses I happen to be teaching, and among those books, one of my all time favorites is John Dower’s Embracing Defeat, which I recently read for the fifth or sixth time. This wonderfully accessible study of Japan during the Allied Occupation is a masterpiece of historical research and writing that has inspired a new generation of scholars to examine the history of Japan in the wake of World War II. From constitutional politics to military prostitution, Embracing Defeat addresses the occupation in ways that...[read on]
About Seeing Stars, from the publisher:
In Seeing Stars, Dennis J. Frost traces the emergence and evolution of sports celebrity in Japan from the seventeenth through the twenty-first centuries. Frost explores how various constituencies have repeatedly molded and deployed representations of individual athletes, revealing that sports stars are socially constructed phenomena, the products of both particular historical moments and broader discourses of celebrity.

Drawing from media coverage, biographies, literary works, athletes’ memoirs, bureaucratic memoranda, interviews, and films, Frost argues that the largely unquestioned mass of information about sports stars not only reflects, but also shapes society and body culture. He examines the lives and times of star athletes—including sumo grand champion Hitachiyama, female Olympic medalist Hitomi Kinue, legendary pitcher Sawamura Eiji, and world champion boxer Gushiken Yokoƍ--demonstrating how representations of such sports stars mediated Japan’s emergence into the putatively universal realm of sports, unsettled orthodox notions of gender, facilitated wartime mobilization of physically fit men and women, and masked lingering inequalities in postwar Japanese society.

As the first critical examination of the history of sports celebrity outside a Euro-American context, this book also sheds new light on the transnational forces at play in the production and impact of celebrity images and dispels misconceptions that sports stars in the non-West are mere imitations of their Western counterparts.
Learn more about Seeing Stars at the Harvard University Press website.

Dennis J. Frost is Wen Chao Chen Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Kalamazoo College.

The Page 99 Test: Seeing Stars.

Writers Read: Dennis J. Frost.

--Marshal Zeringue